Speaking before the eighth annual Border Security Expo in Phoenix, Arizona this week, U.S. Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher delivered a keynote speech where he defended the right of his agents to use deadly force in self-defense. Fischer addressed the ordeal agents face when they are suddenly presented with the most important decision of their lives – should I use deadly force to save my life or someone else’s life?
The Associated Press quoted Fischer saying, “If you are like me, there’s nothing more terrifying than fighting for your life when you’re alone with no communication, and the thought for a split second that you may never get home at the end of that shift to see your wife and son again. The only thing that is equal to the ripple of fear is thinking of having to use deadly force against another human being.”
This is a scenario Border Patrol Agents could be faced with at any time, not unlike any law enforcement officer. The big difference for a border patrol agent is, often they are in the middle of nowhere when trouble springs up and their back-up can be as much as thirty to forty minutes away.
Breitbart Texas border security specialist Sylvia Longmire was present at the expo during Chief Fischer’s keynote address on Wednesday. “His frustration with these accusations against his agents by the media was palpable,” she explained. “Despite the fact that on an annual basis, Border Patrol agents are involved in considerably fewer shooting incidents than officers from municipal agencies that are much smaller, the USBP still gets all the heat.”
Fox News Latino reported Thursday, “Immigrant rights groups accuse Border Patrol agents of being trigger-happy in responding to would-be crossers who throw rocks at them from the Mexican side of the border. The agency has maintained that often people throw rocks to distract agents from smugglers sneaking drugs into the U.S.”
“It’s politicized,” Longmire responded, “because the individuals throwing rocks and taunting agents are foreign nationals and not just American gangsters or criminals.”
Breitbart Texas reported that dangers to the agents do not always come from rocks. She reported about an incident near Encino, Texas where a suspect fought with a Border Patrol Agent, beating him severely and eventually wrestling his firearm away from him. Fortunately, the pistol had jammed from other discharges during the struggle. The suspect was eventually subdued and the agent was treated at an area hospital for his injuries.
Border Patrol Council vice-president Shawn Moran told Breitbart Texas, The Border patrol agent in question never gave up and relied on his training, even when it appeared he may lose his own life. The agent should be commended for his actions and every Border Patrol agent is relieved that we are not having to mourn another fallen brother.”
The Fox News Latino report says that Fischer has previously stated his agents have been assaulted with rocks more than 1,700 times since 2010. However, agents have only responded with deadly force in 43 of those situations. These actions resulted in ten deaths.
Fischer told the audience in Phoenix that the use of force is a difficult topic but there are standards and policies that address it.
Responding to Fischer’s comments about the difficulty of making the decision to use deadly force, Longmire said, “Chief Fisher is absolutely right in emphasizing that the last thing Border Patrol agents–or any other law enforcement officer, for that matter–want to do is get into a situation where they have to defend their lives with a firearm, or worse, be in a position to possibly take someone’s life. But make no mistake–agents have a job to do, and a mission to accomplish.”
“They often place their lives on the line,” she stated, “to pursue armed and dangerous drug smugglers and human smugglers, and their operating environment is very unique. Not only is the Border Patrol held to the same standard as other agencies; in many cases, they’re held to higher standards because they come under such scrutiny and public criticism any time the dangers of their mission becomes visible.”
During the speech in Phoenix, Fischer said that apprehensions by his agents were up by 16 percent during the last fiscal year that ended in September, 2013. 420,789 arrests were made by his agents. He said this number is down, however, from the higher levels in 2008. He said more than 98 percent of those arrests were made along the southwestern border of the United States, particularly in Texas.
Texas, as reported by Breitbart Texas managing director Brandon Darby, made a major push last year to effectively shut down the Rio Grande River Sector of the U.S./Mexico border.
Texas has seen a major influx of migrants from Central America, according to the Fox News Latino report.
During the Homeland Security Congressional briefing held Thursday in Houston, Congressman Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) revealed many of the victims in this week’s Houston stash house raid were from Central America.
Fischer told the audience at the Expo he was very proud of the work his agents do.
Follow Bob Price on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX